Shifting Terrain by Radhika Hamlai

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New Delhi– When one first encountered Radhika Hamlai’s work, the emphasis was on the self, for she was looking deeply at the notion of “identity”. Her works are a personal exploration that poses questions like “who are we?” “Where do we belong?”

While that has not changed, however, her method of approaching the self has indeed shifted. She has created intimate sculptural ceramic works in addition to mono-prints and paintings.

In her recent engagement with her work, Radhika has moved towards a response to the widespread anxiety about humanity’s increasingly discordant relationship with the world and the accompanying lost feelings of authenticity and spirituality as a result of the COVID-19 Pandemic. Radhika faced personal loss as her mother passed away during the second wave that took many lives. This naturally led to a huge shift in her emotional terrain. While her mother was unwell, she had already begun creating work that revisited some of her earlier paintings and monoprints that were just lying unfinished in her studio.

Her works have always been imbued with content that articulates itself through a range of styles that evolve from the semi-figurative to the highly expressionist. Over time, she searches for forms of expression, and this has led her to create her own vocabulary as an artist. Her works, the product of a journey through self-expression, combine research on textiles, light, colour, value, and movement with an understanding of lines and forms as a means of exploring the human psyche and herself.

She was isolated during the lockdown and took guidance to create the ceramic work from online videos and an online tutor who coached her over the internet. In a way, she grew addicted to working in her studio, and it turned into her safe space to create and process her feelings. She literally stopped painting for that whole tenure and concentrated mainly on ceramic work. It was not until she reached her threshold that she understood that painting was her “real calling,” and she returned to it with a sense of redefined structure after working in the third dimension.

The entire body of work that she presents before the viewer is essentially her explorations and experiments during the lockdown period. Like many artists, being isolated has led to a period of interiority and, as mentioned, Radhika was already an artist who enjoyed exploring the self. Even while the forms and the characters seem outgoing and lively, they are also introspective and take one on a deeper journey. (IANS)


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